Diamond Bowl, a refreshing fusion of bowling alley and robust restaurant, serves as a hangout for pin-battering rollers hungry for lane-thundering action and thirsty for food. Games ($5) on Diamond’s eight lanes keep hook-happy fingers limber, and shoes ($3) safeguard feet from toe-stomping sore losers. Follow up your fourth turkey with tangible foodstuffs from Diamond's full menu, such as the blackened-salmon sandwich on a kaiser roll ($7.99), the well-rounded bowling burger ($7.49), or the crispy chicken-tender salad ($8.99). Serious contenders can take a break from finger calisthenics to enroll in one of Diamond Bowl's leagues, and casual players can pair their match play with drinks from Diamond’s fully stocked bar, or they can watch a less phalange-intensive sport on one of nine crystalline HD TVs. Hourly games are also available.
When writer Richard Faulk set out to catalog the nation's oddest corners for his book Gross America, Leila's Hair Museum was an obvious choice. There, Leila Cohoon preserves and furthers the off-kilter artform of hair-based crafts, which stretches back to the 1700s and beyond. In a piece for CNN.com, Faulk notes that, in pre-photography days, Victorian artisans would "[weave] jewelry and decorative lace out of human hair" as a means of remembering departed loved ones, with "successive generations [sometimes adding] to the lacework to create a genealogical record, much like a family bible". In addition to these personal mementoes, Leila's collection includes 400 hair-based wreaths dating before 1900, and numerous reliquaries said to contain the hair of Mary, mother of Jesus, St. Anne, grandmother of Jesus, and pieces of the cross. Hair pieces belonging to Michael Jackson, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Lincoln, and other presidents also reside here. Although not hair-related, the museum also features a brooch that is said to contain threads from the coat of Joseph, father of Jesus. The quirky outpost has attracted the attention of racontours other than Faulk, too--noted gadabout Anthony Bourdain also paid a visit during an episode of his show No Reservations.
Known for its history as a pioneer town and home to former president Harry S. Truman, Independence welcomes visitors to its storied sites, making them more accessible with free trolley rides. Tour the 1859 Jail and Marshal's Home and Museum to glimpse a dwelling for law breakers next to a dwelling for a law keeper, and the clandestine tryst between the abodes that resulted in a museum. The Bingham-Waggoner Estate preserves many of the original art and furnishings of the famed Bingham and Waggoner families, while the National Frontier Trails Museum hails the starting point of the westbound pioneers with bronzed pieces of nuts, raisins, and chocolate bits tracing a path westward.
For more than 50 years, Cool Crest's owners have enchanted visitors with the fun park's abundance of family-friendly attractions. Flanked by emerald gardens, four 18-hole miniature golf courses lead participants to a bonus 19th hole, which rewards successful shots with a free game. Helpful staff enables drivers to hug the racetrack's corners while strapped into an open-wheel go-kart or, when in season, smack homers from batting cages hurling slow, medium, or fast pitches. Inside, a climbing playland and 7,000-square-foot arcade entertain guests throughout the year. To encourage kids to work as hard as they play, Cool Crest's staff rewards students brandishing recent report cards with up to 20 tokens, depending on their number of A's, B's, or the results from their PhD peer review. In between exhaustive sessions of play, a snack bar staff reenergizes guests with a slice or treat at Frankie's Pizzeria.
Each autumn, friends and families meander through the twists and turns of the 25-acre Liberty Corn Maze, whose GPS-precision-cut design changes every year. This year’s design, which commemorates World War One and our nation's soldiers, is actually composed of four separate mazes, each dotted with nefarious twists and turns. Visitors set off down 50-inch-wide trails lined with tall, swaying stalks, armed only with a map, their wits, and a lion sidekick whose fear makes them strong. Along the way, bridges lift travelers above the stalks and give them a bird’s-eye view of their surroundings. Friendly staffers keep guests on the right trail and help locate lost friends and family members. For young ones, a separate three-foot-high soybean maze provides entertainment while keeping kids within view at all times.
The journey to the more than 50-acre pumpkin patch begins with a spirited tractor-pulled hayride. Amateur squash hunters can romp through the field in search of filling for jack-o'-lantern pie or select a pre-picked pumpkin. An additional 20 acres of the farm are strictly designated for family fun. There are play areas for kids, including a melon-scratching Little Munchkin corn maze and a hands-on petting farm. Place your corn bets on Uncle Lester's Pig Races, with curly-tailed contestants including Pork Chop, Lean Cuisine, and Even-Toed Ungulate. Sprouts and sprout-tenders can hop aboard Little Bud's Railroad for a half-mile journey around the farm's many landmarks ($3 per person per ride). After digging up wholesome veggies, kinds can uncover precious minerals and candied dinosaur bones at Uncle Earl's Mining Camp ($5 per person).